5 biggest mistakes made when working with influencers


Influencer Marketing has become the top way to connect with consumers and inform them about your brand and products.  Everyone is doing it, but not everyone is doing it right.  As you prepare for your next influencer activations be sure to avoid these five all too common mistakes.

  1. Choosing Influencers by the Numbers
  2. Being a Control Freak
  3. Wasting Your Time and Product
  4. Getting into Long Distance Relationships5. Taking a Journey with No Destination

1. Choosing influencers by the numbers

Many searches for influencers start by looking at views, subscribers, followers, page views or impressions – the numbers. This is certainly a quick and easy way to choose an influencer, but is it the best way to choose someone to represent your brand to the public? Is it the right way to choose the person or people who will continue to be associated with your brand after your planned integration has ended? Would you choose your babysitter based on the number of children they had cared for that year?

Your brand is your baby so you need to be careful with whom you entrust it.  While numbers will need to be considered, your search should start with looking for influencers who have content that is similar in tone, attitude and values as your brand.  Take the extra time to look influencers’ back catalog of content to make sure that they are safe representatives for your brand. Also, be sure to check out other branded content they have produced.  How well do they appear to convey a brand’s message? Does their branded content stick out like a sore thumb among their standard fare?  What type of response does their branded content get from their audience? Nothing is worse than working hard on an influencer campaign that, in the end, provides no actual influence with your target audience.

2. Being a control freak

Choosing an influencer because your love their style, voice and level of professionalism, and then micromanaging the entire integration is a total waste of your time and theirs.  At the outset of your engagement of an influencer clearly communicate your messaging and what you want to ultimately achieve through the integration.  If there are critical talking points that you need the influencer to communicate, let them know what those are, and if there are specific phrases or terminology that you need to have conveyed, clarify that as well. Then step back and let them do their thing!  Do not present them with a brief that is actually a script.  Influencers are not actors and talking points should not become carefully crafted lines in a script.

Influencers are at their hearts creators so let them create.  Let them present you with their vision for how best to share your product and messaging with their audience.  Remember that it is their audience, and they know what entertains them and inspires them to take action.  The result will be a much better relationship – one  that can potentially become long term. Most importantly, you will have an integration that yields the best results.

3. Throwing product & money out the window

You may have obtained a mailing list of influencers, briefly looked through their content, and decided that several of them might be a good match for your brand.  You pack up your product and ship it off to those influencers and await the flood of coverage and then become disappointed and disillusioned when you receive only a trickle of coverage.  

Before you start packing up product and shipping it to influencers, you need to contact them!  Without first reaching out to a creator you have absolutely no idea if your product is of any interest to them.  You also don’t know if they accept free product or if they work solely on a fee basis.  Without prior communication you might not know that they have a production schedule that doesn’t line up with your promotional timeline. From the influencer perspective, nothing is more frustrating than receiving something out of the blue, with no context.  It is even more frustrating because it is often received without any talking points, pricing information, launch dates, retailer details etc. 

Your time and products are valuable.  Sending unrequested product to influencers is the equivalent of throwing money out the window.  While actually reaching out to creators may seem like more work and more time, in the end you will have a way better campaign and it will all be worth the effort.

4. Getting stuck in long distance relationships

Everyone knows that long distance romances often fail because they lose their spark.  Similarly, working with influencers through generic email templates coupled with shipments of new product on a regular schedule, while it might be efficient, yields content that feels sterile and lacks a certain spark.  Consumers respond positively to that spark – that true love between a creator and a brand or product – they often gloss over content that feels rote and sterile.

While you may not ever get the opportunity to meet all of your influencers in person, there is a device called the telephone, which can yield amazing results.  It gives you the opportunity to get to know them beyond their content and build a real relationship.  As you get to know them and they you, their content becomes more authentic and heartfelt and consumers will sense that and become a part of that relationship by extension.

5. Embarking on a journey with no destination

While getting in a car and taking a Sunday drive can be enjoyable and relaxing, it doesn’t really yield much in the way of quantifiable results.  Many influencer campaigns begin because, “we need to start using influencers!”  Lists are developed, products are sent out, communication takes place and content is created and then…what?  

A successful influencer campaign starts with a clear idea of what it is meant to accomplish.  Are you trying to raise awareness of a new product, increase sales or grow your own social media footprint? If you don’t know what the end goal is, how can you measure your success or failure?   When you first begin working with influencers, choose a specific goal for each activation. While you may show gains in multiple measurable areas, having a specific goal (destination) in mind will help you to begin honing your influencer strategy skills.  

Overall, the business of influencer marketing is a marathon not a sprint and it will traverse all types of terrain over the years.  Avoiding these five most common mistakes will help you to create long term partnerships with influencers and together you can navigate the twists and turns successfully.